nothings, somethings, everythings…

It’s a mystery really, how we “find our tribe.”  I met my 1st friend from 1st grade on the 1st day of school, and we are still dear friends, I’d say she is my best friend, despite her 1st words to me being, “you have bad breath.”  Maybe I did, I was 5 years old, who knows?!  My 2nd best friend I met in my 2nd semester of gym when I was a freshman in high school, and we are still dear friends and I’d say she too is my best friend, despite her first words to me being, “why do you dress like a boy?”  To be fair, I did at that time live in 501 Levi’s and Docksider suede sneakers and t-shirts from Freedom Surf Shop.  But, knowing nothing about a person, and then learning some things, turns out to be everything, when you find somebody you connect to and with.  In the same way that Barbie clothes fit Monster High girls, and in the same way that Mega Bloks will make a tower just fine if mixed with Discovery Kids blocks, relationships manage, in some miraculous way, to mix people with seemingly different everythings, and they form bonds, lasting loving bonds, out of lots of little nothings.

I have a few friends in cyber-space who I seldom, and some NEVER, see, but their value to me is no less significant than friends I see or speak with regularly.   I am becoming of the mind that it is what we think about people, and what we think about circumstances, and how we feel about both that matters more than anything else.  If I have positive and loving thoughts about a person, it does not really matter to me how often I see that person, it matters most to me how I feel when I think about that person, or what I think about that person.  Just like if I have high hopes about a situation or a circumstance.  I think this is part of the magic of finding one’s tribe.  People with whom you connect on a level that is a mix of the physical and the mental, and when it “feels” right, it is something magical.

I always said, for all of my adult life, that I would never date a man with kids.  When I was a young single mother I had visions of a beautiful family becoming part of my world, by visions of marrying a man, and him adopting my child, and us having children together, and making a home and making a family, and a white picket fence to box it all in…and all that fairy-tale-stuff that never happened for me…never even came close.  In what universe would it happen that MANY years later, after I gave up all my familial dreams, I meet a man who has a child just a half a year older than my eldest grandchild and not even three years older than my youngest??  AND that they click together almost like sisters??  And suddenly I am a woman who, when out with said man, and said three girls, people often assume is part of that fairy-tale family I always imagined.  It’s funny that yesterday the little one said to me, “Nana my friend asked me ‘which one was your mom’ after my party.”  It seems that she has a friend who has a mom who is older than I am…she found it hilarious that her friend’s mother is a few months older than her Nana, they discussed this!   So, while my little family “dream” of three little girls and a boy who loves me, never worked out for me in the exact way I envisioned it, it “sort-of” did, and this is one of the funny things about the universe…maybe it gives us what it knows we need, and not what we think we need…like that expression I have heard and read too many times to count, “want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

I had a third “best” friend for many years…20 or so, maybe more, and when I met her it was really like magic, I felt a connection and a “vibe” that bordered on miraculous.  She was my first “real friendship” that I formed as a “grown-up.”  I met and became friendly with lots of people during my years of college and my various jobs, but this woman became a really important part of my life, for a really long time.  That we shared a love of Eddie Vedder’s voice and that she was up for going to lots and LOTS of Pearl Jam concerts that neither of us could really afford was just an added part of the joy of our friendship.  She had a devoted and hard-working husband, and three beautiful and brilliant daughters and we had, for a long time, a really deep friendship.  But it ended.  With very little explanation from her and many assumptions on my part, what was really good for a really long time, just ended.  Much like a boyfriend I guess, who you are crazy about and the sex is amazing, and you go on great vacations and do all the things you wanted to do, and then you just don’t love each other anymore…so it ended, and all those little somethings that became everythings to me, about her, and us, became nothings.  It just ended.  And while I felt for a long time that she was the most significant part of my tribe, she felt otherwise, and we stopped being friends…it was a loss that hurt me deeply, but I accepted it, like I have accepted every break-up of my life.  It is what it is, as people like to say…Everythings can become nothings just as easily as somethings become everythings…

It’s very easy for all of us to look at and focus on what is going wrong in our lives, in our country, on this planet we share, and when we get bogged down by all that is wrong, we have a very hard time zooming in on all that is right.  I am of an age, and of a mindset now that the camera of my life ought to focus on the best view, the best image, the best vision.  I can choose to focus on the nothings, or I can choose to zoom in on the somethings, and most of all, I can embrace all of the bits that become the everythings.  I’ve read that ‘our vibe attracts our tribe’ and I believe this.  Our ability to see and accept how nothings become somethings that grow to be everythings…it’s how it all comes to be, the you and the me, the us, the we.

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Finding a Voice

I think about writing every day.  I write every day.  I think myself a writer, in the same way that I think myself a reader, gardener, crocheter, house painter, cleaner, and cook.  It’s what I do.  I suppose just like some people think about their dogs every day and are dog lovers, or some people think about music every day and are musicians.  We become what we think about, right?

I don’t post or share even a third of the blogs I write, or start, or work on, and I have never had published any of the short stories that I write month after month, and mostly I think to myself, “well, who wants to read about what I know about?”  But these last couple days I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book called Big Magic where she explains in her delightfully conversational way that it matters not if anybody, anywhere, ever, wants to read what I write, it just matters that I want to write, and if I feel inspired, then I just do it.  She writes for paragraphs and chapters about finding ways to let yourself “get” inspired and I realized last night, I need no push.  I need no nudge in the direction towards motivation.  I am inspired EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Perhaps for some women who get “stuck” in a role of wife and mother, and lose touch with the other roles they once played; roller skater, hula hooper, limbo winner, Jager shot master, boot seller…whatever they once “were,” and then they stopped thinking about THAT, because they were too busy thinking about burp cloths, and play dates, and signing homework pages, and college and financial aid applications…and suddenly 19 years have gone by and she thinks, “Who is this woman, is this who I am??!!”  Maybe those women need to be told it’s okay to think creatively and let themselves be inspired, they might need a little push towards believing it’s okay to think freely and about new things.  Perhaps for some men who get “stuck” in a rut remembering who they used to be; hot rod racer, musician, house flipper, poker winner, snow boarder…all those things they once were, and now they are stuck feeling like they are nothing but the ex-husband, the child support payer, the every other weekend dad, the looking for work middle aged white guy, and he thinks, “What the F**K did I let happen to ME?!  The man I was?!  This is who I am?!  Who is this person?!”   Those men might need a nudge in the direction of ‘thinker-outside-of-the-box’  if they want to see their life turn back to one of positivity and joy.  I think there are many of us who are wondering where did all the magic go…

I write about happiness and sadness and relationships a lot, because that is what I know about, right now, whether I am sad or happy and if it has anything at all to do with any of my relationships.  News Flash, um, yes, it seems to have much to do with my relationships…but I also write about children, and laughter, and how I feel when I look at the sky, and the stunningly beautiful mix of fall foliage in shades like raw sienna, oxide red, mahogany, burnt orange, and cadmium yellow deep, right outside my door.  I read page after page of this new book where she tells us we don’t need permission to be creative, we don’t need schooling to be creative, we just need to let ourselves be pulled by an idea, ANY idea, if we feel inspired by it.  Most importantly it seems, that we are open to new ideas…

This is the third book by Elizabeth Gilbert that I’ve read and I like it and I like her, but really…a whole book about this?  I initially felt a bit bummed out, or better I guess I should write inspired; that she simply chose something to write about which she enjoys thinking about, that is ‘being creative’ and how to go with it, and now it is in the top 50 of sales on Amazon.  I realized as I was reading that perhaps it’s  written for people who keep thinking they have to follow certain rules, specific ways of being, and are a bit timid when it comes to coloring outside of the lines, people who were told they were not artistic or told they lacked creativity…I imagine  a lot of people are like this, but I decided, although admittedly I have about three chapters to go to be finished, I am not one of these people.  I think she is writing for people who think that they lack the ability to think freely and to DO something creative, and she is saying, no, you are human, therefore you ARE creative, and you don’t need anybody to tell you it’s okay to be free with your own creativity…at least this is the essence of what I’ve read, or what I’ve gotten from it.

I really do allow myself to be pulled by whatever magical feeling fills me, and I write my heart out when it happens.  Sometimes I do it with vodka and tears streaming down my face.  Sometimes I do it with coffee and my fingers move as fast on the keyboard as the words come flying from my head.  Sometimes I do it with my eyes and my ears, and I just absorb the thoughts that swirl around my brain when I watch my grandchildren play in their incredibly imaginative and beautiful way, and listen to them pretend, pretend, pretend…So I am going to continue my journey pretending to be a writer, and finding a new voice every day with everything that stimulates my brain and touches my soul.  I suspect if we become what we think about, then I shall, at some point “become” a writer, and in the space between now and then, I’m okay with simply finding my own voice, even if nobody ever hears it…

What’s the fare, for a life that’s fair?

“It’s not fair.”  I have a distinct memory of this lament, when I was in about fifth or sixth grade, and my friend Lori got picked for a dance troupe that I wanted, desperately, to be selected for…I remember crying very hard; that I had practiced and practiced and worked so hard to improve so that the teachers would see I could handle the more rigorous schedule, practice, and rehearsals, but still, they picked her over me and I felt it was not fair, that a great injustice had been committed…  AND all these years later, I realize that it is not fair, great injustices are committed every single day, and it is so easy to hang your head and cry for the dreadful cruelty of it all… BUT it is very hard to get things done with your head down.

Not so long ago, I saw a photo of a t-shirt that said “NO! I do not want to adult today” and I thought it was perfect for many of us at least once a week!   What I have learned in this life as an adult is that it is often, too often it seems, grossly unfair and that people who are often shite people “get” what they want or wish for or work for, and people who are many things, but shitty isn’t one of them, continually get passed over by the universe for that perfect job, perfect apartment, perfect spouse, or get the flat tire on the one day they are running late, or the dog throws up right by the door on their way to a doctor appointment, or have their unlabeled lunch in the office refrigerator eaten by somebody else on the one day they have left the house without their wallet, or whatever…countless scenarios go through my head of really terrific men and women who do really great things, and so often great things for others,  to whom the universe often gives a big bold F**k You!

When your own life is not going at all, in any direction whatsoever that you anticipated, planned, or aimed for, when a friend confides in you that he hates his job and can hardly drag himself out of bed in the morning, or a friend’s marriage that seemed so loving,  crumbles, or a girlfriend keeps trying to get pregnant and would be a gloriously wonderful mother, but can’t, or somebody who is so creative and good just keeps getting knocked down by bad health that does not improve…all of these things make us think that ‘it’s just not fair.’  But what is fair?

Some people bet and bet for years that their gamble will finally pay off in some big way, some big win, some grand moment of things finally coming together but it never seems to…some people put $1 in the penny slots and a whole new life falls into their lap with one push of one button…and it feels so unfair…AND I have figured out that it is always going to be this way…there is always going to be somebody winning who does not seem deserving and there is always going to be somebody losing who really needs the prize and it might be you or it might be me, on either end, at any time…

SO I have understood that a smirk and a grin from the little blonde-wonder next door, as she uses sarcasm in the wittiest way you can imagine and a pun that knocks you off your feet, she is only 7 after all, is a gift.  I have understood that an invitation to, yet again, watch a dance routine the long-legged beauty next door has choreographed, she is only 10 after all, is a gift.  I have understood that a text message from the 30 year old stunner next door, their mother, who feels a cold coming on and wants nothing more than mommy’s, that would be me, homemade chicken noodle soup, and “I have the chicken,” is a gift.  An unexpected lunch date with friends that involves cocktails and laughter all before 3 o’clock in the afternoon, is a gift.  I have come to understand that the windfall of life is built upon moments of kindness, and things that make you laugh, and seemingly insignificant pluses that become, when you look back, a fortune.  I have come to realize that best way to change your fortune is to notice just how very rich you are.

 

 

 

 

foreign languages

 I often get annoyed with myself that I never learned a foreign language.  Sure, I took Spanish in school, but at the time didn’t really care, or fully understand how it could truly change my brain for the better, as countless studies indicate, forever…so here I am, a monolingual.  When my first grandchild was born I told her father that he should only speak to her in Spanish, that my daughter should only speak to her in English, and she would have a benefit of better-stronger-faster gray matter from the get-go…needless to say they did not heed my advice nor follow my suggestion in any manner, but I digress.  3 years 3 months and 3 days ago I met a boy…well a man with beautifully boyish features, and the first time he smiled at me, without a single word, I heard and understood so much, and felt profoundly confident that he spoke my same language.  I am thinking today about the universal language of happiness, joy, elation…really any descriptor will do, and how a facial expression has no borders, no barriers to communication, no pretense…it says everything while saying nothing at all…

“If you smile at me I will understand, ‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language”  is a line from a song by Crosby Stills Nash and Young and as so many great song lyrics are, it’s a truth as pure as a day is long, acknowledged by everyone as real and honest.  The first time this person smiled at me I “read” that he was so ready to have someone smile back…which I know might sound ridiculously corny and rather juvenile, but it’s true…his smile said his parents were long ago dead, he was going through a break up and a divorce and had recently lost his job and was clawing his way out of a confused time, with a loss of friends from a move across the country, giving up all he had worked so hard for and pretty much everything he had for the love of a woman who turned out to be a bad choice as a wife…his smile “read” mine which said I had a perfect childhood and nearly perfect parents who love me unconditionally and now in mid-life I get to live right next door to my daughter and her daughters, and I work really hard and have tried my whole life to do right, and to be good, and think myself to be so very kind, and why can’t I just find a person who makes me feel like I have finally found somebody who fits me?   I felt like the moment our eyes met, and that very first smile we shared was a level of communication I had never before experienced,  and perhaps never will again.

To be clear, it has not been all rainbows and butterflies…it’s been positively dreadful a couple of times and a few times we’ve considered throwing in the towel because face it, it’s not easy to fall in love with somebody when one of you is down and out and the other is beautifully broken… it’s SO MUCH easier being in a relationship when things are going swimmingly for all parties involved, but guess what I’ve learned?  If it’s all perfect all the time and there are no difficulties,  when the rug gets pulled out from under you, it’s a lot harder to keep your balance.  When you start out in difficult circumstances, or during a trying time, or at “rock bottom” so to speak, for one, or both of you, the only way to go is up!!!

I’ve known people who, on the surface, seem to have everything and life for them looks great on the outside…but it’s all just on the outside, it’s all just keeping up appearances…some of the most miserable people I have ever met are ones who behave and act like they’ve got it going in the right direction.  I’ve learned that kindness and joy are languages which not everybody speaks, and many people never learn the nuances and the tones and the timbres of voice, that allow them to become fluent, and encourage them to find others of their kind…do you speak my language?  is a question I think more couples ought to ask each other…I know some couples who, when you see them smile at each other you can practically hear the angels singing!!!  That’s a language we ALL could learn to master if we only tried…

This man I share my life with, with the beautifully boyish face, speaks my same language in silence but also deeply understands my need for words; for effective and open communication, for honest and heartfelt apology when one of us has done wrong, and genuine gratitude for all that is good when it is good.  He knows that I crave words and love how they string together in a dance, and he knows I believe this is a language which connects us all…we talk a lot,  about a lot of things…we disagree mightily on a few issues, and are in strong solidarity on most others.  He too often tells me to “relax” which makes me want to punch him in the face, and I too often correct his grammar which causes him to shoot me the eye of death…but then comes the smile, always the smile, the language we all speak fluently but so many of us forget its value…but in this house, this space where I try very hard to maintain peace and positivity, the smile packs a punch…through the thick and thin of these 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days there have been infinitely more smiles than frowns, much more laughter and light than raised voices and dark thoughts, open communication and freedom of expression, instead of dwelling angst-ridden silences…In this house  the language of kindness is the primary one spoken, and when we fail, or forget, we apologize, and we mean it…we smile, we forgive, and we remember all the words that were not spoken the first time we smiled together…